More than 10,000 were arrested in the Chinese Communist Party’s latest efforts to reduce alleged Internet crimes, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Public Security on July 25.
The ministry said that it has been tackling pornography websites, and sites selling firearms, ammunition, explosives, or personal information since the campaign began in March. However, many believe that these efforts are in fact targeting online criticism toward the regime.
In a report released by state-run news agency Xinhua on July 24, Beijing police chief Fu Chenghua warned against websites that “sell prohibited goods; manufacture and spread political rumors; [or] attack the Party, the state leaders, and the current system,” noting that violators will be punished.
In Beijing, 5,007 people were arrested, with over 120,000 police dispatched to inspect more than 10,000 Internet cafes of which 263 were closed down, according to the Xinhua report.
Across the country, a total of 3.2 million online posts were deleted, with over 10,000 “Internet service units” punished, the ministry noted.
Chinese netizens speculated that the crackdown may be a silencing tactic ahead of the 18th National People’s Congress to be held later this year, when the next generation of communist leaders is expected to officially take the reins.
Twitter user “renrenping” tweeted, “A measure taken to safeguard the 18th National People’s Congress,” along with a link to the Xinhua report.
On Sina Weibo, China’s microblogging service, Beijing lawyer Zhang Xing quoted police chief Fu Chenghua’s words: “What does ‘attack the Party and the state leaders’ mean? Doesn’t ‘attacking’ imply criticism? But Article 41 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China stipulates that its citizens have the right to direct criticism or suggestions to any state organ or government worker.”
Also on Weibo, media personality An Ti said that judging from the timing of these reports, the crackdown is likely in preparation for the 18th congress, as an effort to clamp down on public opinion.
Both posts have since been deleted.
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